House passes bill to overturn 'midnight' regulations en masse

House passes bill to overturn 'midnight' regulations en masse
© Getty
Legislation to allow Congress to repeal in a single vote any rule finalized in the last 60 legislative days of the Obama administration sailed through the House Wednesday, the second time in less than two months.
 
The GOP-backed Midnight Rule Relief Act, which passed the previous Congress in November, was approved largely along party lines by a vote of 238-184 on the second day of the new Congress, despite Democratic opposition.
 
If passed by the Senate and signed by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpGOP rep on voting on ObamaCare anniversary: 'Who cares about that?' Pentagon worried about Chinese investment in US startups: report By briefing White House, Nunes plays Trump's wiretapping game MORE, the legislation would amend the Congressional Review Act to allow lawmakers to bundle together multiple rules and overturn them en masse with a joint resolution of disapproval.
 
The White House has already threatened to veto the bill if it were to make it to President Obama's desk before he leaves office.
 
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) criticized Republicans for bringing the bill to the floor so soon.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
“I’m surprised that without hearings, without opportunity for amendment, we are now considering a measure that has this much opposition,” he said.
 
The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC), which claims to represent a network of more than 250,000 businesses, sent a letter to members of the House on Wednesday urging them to oppose this “anti-regulatory” measure.
 
“This would be like taking a chainsaw into surgery,” David Levine, ASBC’s CEO and co-founder, said in a statement.
 
“Businesses depend on good regulations to set clear boundaries and rules for fair competition on a level playing field.”
 
Instead, Levine claims that the Midnight Rules Relief Act would enable Congress to undo batches of rules without any consideration of their individual merits.
 
While debating the bill on the floor Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) appealed to the freshman class of the new Congress.

Issa informed new lawmakers that Congress has only once, in 2001, successfully repealed a rule by way of a resolution under the Congressional Review Act.

“All this legislation does is allow for us to dispose of one or more regulations in an expedited fashion in this body and have it seen in the same form in the Senate,” he said. “It doesn’t change the underlying law.”

He explained that the House, the Senate and the president all have to agree on the resolution to repeal a rule.

“Only one regulation has ever been repealed,” he said. “It’s been 16 years and the few that will likely be considered under this act and underlying law will be just that, a relatively few regulations that are believed to be unnecessary on which the House, Senate and president concur.” 

But Democrats argued that the bill would allow Congress to erase months of President Obama’s regulatory agenda.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) accused Republicans of bringing a bill to gut regulations a day after trying to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“They like the idea of the fox guarding the hen house. They want to put themselves in control of the hen house, so what do they do today come back not with a jobs bill, but a regulations bill, something that protects the health safety and welfare of Americans, little ones, elderly, workers and people who are consumers,” he said.

“They will tell you that gutting regulations helps to enhance job creation, but nothing can be further from the truth when you consider the last eight years.”  

Johnson noted that 15 million jobs were created under President Obama despite the regulatory regimes established under the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform law.

“This is an attempt to bring the standard of living Americans have come to enjoy to a halt,” he said.

The House rejected a motion from Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.) to send the bill back to committee.